Change with changed time

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Let things not slip any further. This is in everybody’s interest. If this conflict situation is allowed to escalate, let nobody have any doubt the denouement can be disaster for everybody, turning the clock back to take the state to the medieval ages once again. There will be no winners either, only losers. Already relations between the different ethnic communities have been poisoned so sadly and dangerously, but if sanity returns, the situation may still be retrievable. The bitterness probably will remain and take time to wash away, but an immediate disaster would have been avoided. Let the stupid and obdurate threat of blaming others, including the government of the day, for possible consequence of coercive acts they indulge in also end. Nobody buys that argument anymore. Let those prone to do this learn to grow up and take responsibility for the harms they cause.

Begin by ending the blockade. Everything else will become negotiable thereafter. If and when this negotiation becomes a reality, let it also be known that rationality must be the criteria for arriving at any resolution, not the upkeep of selfish interest of any party which does not see beyond own self-interest and forgets there are as many different interests at stake as there are negotiating parties. No need for any reminder that democratic parleys and debates is about arriving at a consensus on a common denominator on which all the different interests can rest on with the least possible friction amongst them and the best possible benefit for each of them. Any one party cannot take all and hope for a lasting resolution to the problem at hand. Let the smokescreen be banished in spelling out the issue too. At the core of the current problem is the perception of land ownership, defined not by any modern law or accepted democratic practice, but by atavistic notions of ethnic exclusive homelands. All this would have been very fine, if not for the many problems they bring, especially when viewed against the context of modern lifestyles of even those who claim these notional and redundant land ownership patterns. What decides the ownership of uninhabited tracks of mountain territories or lakes or rivers or plains? In modern land tenure system, they would belong to the government, but in the ethnic world yet to be moderated by the modern, different ethnic groups would claim them as part of their homelands. Invariably they would overlap too, sometimes totally, therefore the conflicts. A settlement does not necessarily mean an unthinking application of the modern law. The premium however will have to remain on opening up an avenue to a resolution that takes care of the interests of all stakeholders, and this probably will have to be a consensus on a new notion of shared homeland and shared sovereignty. No one party can have it all. Not in the era of democracy when the powerful and the weak are entitled to the same rights. Even if concessions were to be made to allow the continuance of ethnic homeland notions, this democratic value cannot be allowed to be compromised at any cost and the homelands would have to accommodate it mandatorily.

Quite atrociously, there are also those who cite the law and the protections it gives them when it suits them, but almost in the same breath justify breaking other laws when it does not suit them, all in the name of politics. Nothing can be more hypocritical. Therefore let there also be a consensus on rule of law. This should entail respecting any law so long as it remains a law, and if any particular law becomes out of sync with the changed reality, to work to have them changed to suit the new reality. Democratic laws indeed are not rigid and they can be amended, dropped or else replaced from time to time, according to evolving needs. No point arguing that things do continually change. As for instance laws that were perfect when the population was small, may not work in the changed environment of expanded population. Laws are aimed at providing stability to the society, but they are not intended to be permanent in a democracy, which is also why in a democracy the legislature is vital. Its function is to ensure that the laws of the land remain current to the needs of the time. From the conflict situation emerging on the SADAR Hills issue, the writings on the wall indicate the need for a creative look at a change in the land tenure system in the hills. This does not necessarily mean extension to the hills the modern land law applicable to the valley, but one which can resolve such issues such as the SADAR Hills within the reserved hill districts, taking care of new needs without discarding the traditional altogether. Change, is an inevitable law of nature, and human made laws must strive to keep up with this flux in order that the harmony of society, any society, is not put at jeopardy.

Source : Imphal Free Press

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